A riveting late sixties documentary that weaves music, cultu
Michael Dalton | Eureka, CA United States | 09/17/2007
(5 out of 5 stars)
It was 40 years ago that a film rocked the British public and shocked their sensibilities. Most of the mass television audience dismissed pop music as bubblegum--something they didn't take seriously. But that would change with the premier of a BBC film that first aired after the traditional station sign-off.
In All My Loving, his first major movie, now acclaimed director Tony Palmer introduced to a public enamored with "Top of the Pops," artists that previously had no television exposure. It was John Lennon, whom Palmer had met some years earlier, that insisted that artists like Jimi Hendrix, Cream, The Who, Pink Floyd and Frank Zappa needed to be on TV.
Here was a group of musicians who took their work seriously and in so doing were redefining pop, extending its boundaries and changing the culture. Willing to break with convention to wake people from apathy, the revolutionary nature of their music and actions could not be ignored. The film opens and closes with a pointed line from the song "Yellow Submarine" by The Beatles, "As we live a life of ease / Everyone one of us has all we need."
Being glad for someone like Palmer, who took them seriously, the artists share candidly about the music of their time and how they hoped to change the world. Along the way we get snapshots of rare performances and interviews plus scenes from the cultural and political realities--some quite disturbing, including a man being shot in the head and another who was set on fire. We get behind the scenes with The Beatles, Donovan, Eric Burdon and most of the previously mentioned artists.
This is an accurate and riveting look at the late sixties that weaves everything together in an artful way, which makes it an extraordinary piece of filmmaking. It was the forerunner of the many rock films that would follow.
The performances by the artists are mostly brief but raw and rare. Hendrix performs "Wild Thing," and The Who are shown at the end of a song destroying their equipment. Pink Floyd is captured in a swirl of psychedelic colors on "Set the Controls for the Heart of the Sun." At the end, the film features an extended live performance by Cream that serves as a plea for people to open their hearts. Even today this remains an eye-opening documentary of a generation that sought change.
Ironically, it almost never made it off the shelf. The BBC was reluctant to show it, given its controversial nature. It sat for six months until inquiries prompted its airing. It was deemed too political to be shown in the U.S. Images of social upheaval and war are intermingled throughout, and scene changes are sometimes marked by the sound of a gunshot.
In January 2007, to mark the 40th anniversary of the film, Jon Kirkman interviewed director Tony Palmer. The 40-minute session, which is full of insightful commentary and colorful stories, is included as a bonus feature. It adds wonderful perspective and is a valuable addition to this groundbreaking film. It is now available in DVD.
All Their Dreams
Brian J. Greene | Durham, NC | 09/26/2007
(4 out of 5 stars)
"I stand somewhere between the two others who have posted reviews of this thus far. I do agree that there is a decided lack of cohesiveness to the story here, and I agree that some of the graphic images (from the Vietnam War, especially) are gratuitous. However I found the pieces on the bands exceptional - the footage of The Jimi Hendrix Experience, Pink Floyd, The Who, The Beatles, Donovan, Cream, et. al., and some of the interview snippets with members of those acts, are all outstanding, and also not the same old images and interviews you see every time you watch something about 60s music. I also really loved the interviews with the naysayers - the people who argue against the film's premise, which is that the best music-makers of the late 60s were changing the world for the better. The drunken Tin Pan Alley hack who makes fun of contemporary pop songs is a riot, and Anthony Burgess disparaging all current popular music as something that can't see beyond what can be played and heard on an LP - well, Burgess certainly looks old, stodgy, and ridiculous making that statement. Equally amusing, though, is Donovan talking about how the new musicians are not only making music that is better than what had been heard before, but that they were going to help people improve the way they eat, etc. The whole thing feels like a bunch of stoned people making music, talking about music, and with a stoned film director getting it all down and trying to make it into a kind of grand statement. The statement doesn't stick, but the little bits and pieces along the way are worthwhile when taken at face value."
Frustration mixed with moments of pleasure
Paul Beauparlant | east coast USA | 10/28/2007
(3 out of 5 stars)
"Another frustrating example of late '60's machine-gun film editing.
Images and faces coming at you in rapid bursts, barely pausing to let your brain process what you're looking at.
Ginger Baker performing an on-stage drum solo with the camera zeroed in on his head. No backing up to take his performance in context. Not even a pull-back shot of just him thrashing away on his kit. No. What you get is a trained shot inches away from his head. brilliant(he wrote sarcastically).
Jack Bruce singing the words to I'm So Glad and if all you wanted to see was JUST the close-up face of Jack Bruce singing those words and could care less about the GROUP he was in or other shots of the group members, well then you are in luck!
Same thing with Eric Burdon performing with his new Animals. You get ALL the close up head shots of Eric you could ever want for with a few scattered shots of the guitar player and a glimpse or two of the drummer but a nice whole shot of the group as they perform? Forget it.
Even select interviews as the one with Frank Zappa are filmed at point blank range including nothing but his face. Can't we pull back a little and depict some depth into the space where this was recorded?
Those are my major gripes with this film.
But there are numerous moments that made it worth while for me.
An interview with Paul McCartney DOES contain some depth with the camera generously pulled back a piece, Paul looking very natty in black shirt, neck tie and beige jacket.
And Paul's interview is quite excellent as well.
And as grueling it was to view Mr. Zappa at point blank range, his tale of on-stage antics and opinions of modern day society are interesting.
Ditto Eric Burdon's comments, a short clip of Ringo Starr, Donovan and a sublime piece of film footage with Pete Townshend relaxing on The Who tour bus discussing the meaning of it all.
There are several fleeting interviews with people you don't see every day that I found riveting...one with Manfred Mann deploring the tabloids, George Harrison's mum gently talking about her famous son and a "jingle executive" Jim West sharing his thoughts on the pop music marketing of the day.
Two lengthier interviews that I found facinating were with author Anthony Burgess and "Tin Pan Alley" publisher Eddie Rogers, whom I disagree with fellow Amazon reviewer "brianthepistol" that he was drunk.
I do, however, agree with fellow Amazon reviewer Prolix when he/she? points out the " most disturbing and disappointing aspect of this film is its totally gratuitous use of violent imagry that is interspersed throughout", including the infamous footage of a Vietnamese man being shot in the head.
I'm sure the film-maker Tony Palmer likened these inclusions as necessary to reflect the thoughts that were on the minds of people at the time.
A mention of the musical performances contained within this film:
A very nice clip of Pete of the Who abusing his guitar with no mercy.
An equally nice but extremely brief(what else do you expect)black and white film clip of a VERY young Who.
Pink Floyd performing Set The Controls For The Heart Of The Sun drenched in red color and, of course, focusing solely on the face of Roger Waters as he sings. why oh why couldn't they film a group as a GROUP!?
And some very nice footage that is aggravatingly brief and disjointed of The Beatles in the recording studio.
Along with this film you get a bonus present-day interview with Tony Palmer that was excellent."